America is a unique country full of a ton of quirks that the rest of the world is not quite on board with. The nation loves everything super-sized, deep-fried, convenient, and they generally go through life with a ‘bigger is better’ mindset. America is also an extremely patriotic country, with flags flying around every corner showing the world that they are a force to be reckoned with. They are an extremely hard working bunch and are in a ‘get things done’ mindset, with little vacation time taken annually.
There are a lot of aspects of U.S. culture that is just like it is in the movies, as U.S. based films are based around the lifestyle of those that reside there. So, if you watch a popular U.S. film that is based around college parties and football games, pop-culture in Hollywood, or a cheerleader competition from the famous series of ‘Bring It On’—the actual culture of the nation is pretty much what you see on the TV screen.
For those from the U.S., it’s easy to think that the way that things are done is how it is for everyone, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are a lot of things that wouldn’t strike the nation as strange, but sometimes it takes someone from the outside to realise how odd it really is. Like cheese in a can, for instance. Or having 24-hour restaurants that serve your favourite meals around the clock. Or even something as normal as a Pumpkin Spiced Latte. Along with that, there are a ton of different aspects of America’s culture that is downright baffling to the rest of the world.
25 Cheese. In. a. can?
Yes, you heard right. ‘Easy Cheese’ is as a processed cheese spread product that comes from an aerosol can. I honestly don’t even know if what is in the can is actually real cheese. Some USA folk even find this one strange, and any European would be absolutely outraged by the idea that anyone would consume cheese that isn’t of the best quality. However, as we know, America is a country of convenience and is getting creative with food to do so.
24 Fly flags, everywhere
America is an extremely patriotic country, and they will make sure you know it. The red, white, and blue getup isn’t solely reserved for the Fourth of July, as a walk down any street in America will have you spotting the nation’s flag perched on a big chunk of the houses.
No other country seems to sport their colours as much as America does outside of one’s national holiday, and a lot of foreigners think it’s quite odd that the U.S. flag is embedded into every crevasse of the country.
23 Everyone is a workaholic
Those who reside in America rarely opt for vacation time, and a lot of workers aren’t even guaranteed paid leave. And if they do, it’s probably only a few weeks out of the entire year.
In destinations across the world such as Germany and Spain, vacations are plentiful and employers are required to include at least a month off of paid vacation. The Europeans tend to indulge in travel a lot more than those in North America, as it’s simply ingrained in their culture and lifestyle to do so.
22 Every party includes red solo cups
Red solo cups are a very localised phenomenon. The cups are usually associated with the classic party scene or college hangout, with games such as beer pong and flip cup frequently played with them. The association probably has to do with Hollywood consistently using them in movie party scenes. They are a staple at USA-themed parties thrown around the world. It’s quite a funny cultural association, since something as simple as a plastic red cup is not sold in a lot of countries around the globe.
21 All of the money looks identical
If you have ever travelled to America, you were probably very confused at the bills that are all the same colour, wondering which bill is what amount. The dark green and black design is pretty boring compared to the rest of the world, with many countries having bills in all colours of the rainbow. The coins are all silver as well (except the pennies, but that's a whole entirely different story), with no gold coins thrown into the mix.
The rest of the world definitely finds this very odd and impractical, however the U.S. finds it extremely normal.
20 Cheerleaders are a thing, and a big deal
Cheerleading teams for football teams have become a billion dollar industry and have arguably become just as important as seeing the actual game. The cheerleaders are a vital part of the football team and their routines pre, during, and post games are kind of a big deal. Oh, and we also hold cheerleader competitions where different teams compete against each other as a crowd cheers them on.
Cheering on cheerleaders is definitely odd to wrap your head around as an outsider, but it's completely normal in the States.
19 Everyone orders coffee to go
It seems that coffee in America consists of quickly grabbing a latte at a Starbucks drive-thru as you rush to work in the morning. Rarely do those from the States actually sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee at a café with friends. Most international coffee customs include just that—a common ritual where sharing a cup of coffee is more than just grabbing it on the go. It’s an experience where you can sit down for a couple hours and actually enjoy it.
18 People are generous with tipping waiters/waitresses
Tipping wait staff after a meal is customary in the States, since their minimum wage is below the actual minimum wage. It may seem unfair to a lot of foreigners, but with the wage being so low, waiters and waitresses depend on tips to make a living.
Many places around the world where tipping isn’t in the culture pay servers the proper minimum wage, and sometimes even higher to do the same job. The good thing is you will usually receive great service in the States as the servers know they have to put their best foot forward.
17 portion sizes that are ungodly
America doesn’t exactly know how to do anything small, with sizes that include large, larger, and largest. It seems that the bigger the better is a motto they live by. If you ever visit a McDonalds, they will probably ask if you want to ‘super-size’ your meal. Not only that—but the portion sizes in restaurants are generally always massive.
Other parts of the world typically value quality over quantity, which is why it’s a strange concept to those visiting the country.
16 Almost anything can be deep-fried
Pretty much anything can be deep-fried these days, and that holds especially true in the land of the free. People from America are great at finding creative ways to fry things that probably shouldn’t be fried. But hey, we’re not complaining.
Forget fried chicken. How about fried snickers bars, Twinkies, Oreos, bacon, and chicken-fried steak? And the list goes on and on. Even cheeseburgers can be deep-fried, and on Thanksgiving the turkey is tossed in the deep fryer. In America, anything can be fried if you just believe.
15 Prices are always displayed without tax
Prices are not always what they seem in the U.S., as tax will not be present on the price tag of any item in a store or meal in a restaurant. In a lot of countries, the price on an item is what you will be paying at the end, no questions asked. However, when you checkout in the States you will find that the tax adds a hefty amount to your bill. This is important to consider when buying expensive retail items or a pricey dinner.
14 24-hour restaurants
Riding on the theme of America’s love for eating, it’s not uncommon to find restaurants that are open 24 hours a day. This is especially true in vibrant cities such as NYC, where there are a ton of eateries that are open around the clock.
In other states, Denny’s is a popular diner that is infamous for late night (or early morning) eats at any hour of the day. It doesn’t matter what time you are hungry at, America will fill that void for you.
13 Sitting in the back seat of a taxi
If you were to hail a cab in a place such as NYC, the taxi driver would look at you as if you were absolutely insane if you hopped in the front seat. They may not even let you do so. This is also the case for a lot of places in the U.S. if you ride in a cab or Uber, as it’s not customary to sit in the front seat. However, if you were in Australia or New Zealand, opting for the back seat would be seen as extremely rude.
12 Every restaurant offers free refills
Pretty much every single fast food restaurant in the States will offer free refills, as well as a lot of restaurants as well. If you purchase a soda in any food establishment, you are able to receive as many free refills as your heart desires. However, that’s not the case everywhere in the world—France has actually banned the sale of unlimited refills in an effort to decrease obesity rates. Seems that isn’t a problem for those in America, as bigger seems to always be better.
11 Your glass is filled up the brim with ice
Putting an excessive amount of ice in drinks is mostly a U.S. thing. On the contrary, a lot of foreigners believe that ice simply waters down your drinks and is not needed. People in America seem to have an obsession with keeping beverages as cold as possible, such as fountain soda or iced coffee.
You will never have a drink that doesn't have enough ice in it on a trip throughout America, as they will fill it to the brim every single time.
10 Restaurant orders are frequently customised
If you visit anywhere in Europe and you ask to customise your meal, especially places like Italy, they will a lot of the times refuse any customisation request you make. This is because they take pride in their cuisine and the traditional recipes should not be tampered with.
This isn’t the case in the U.S. though, with customisations like changing a condiment or topping being the norm. However, you would get serious side-eye if you tried this in a lot of countries.
9 All things pumpkin-flavoured are consumed
When autumn hits in America, everyone goes absolutely mental for anything pumpkin flavoured. Pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice-cream, and pretty much anything else you can think of is made pumpkin themed in the fall. Those from the U.S. have come to expect pumpkin-flavoured everything once summer ends, while the rest of the world simply sees them as another member of the squash family.
It’s unlikely that a nation’s pumpkin obsession will ever be to the same extent outside of America.
8 Tailgating for football games is a huge event
Not only does America have a completely different form of ‘football’ than the rest of the world, since it’s known as soccer in other countries, but they also have some pretty crazy traditions that come along with it. One of these traditions includes tailgating, which includes drinking on the back of pick-up trucks whilst enjoying a BBQ in the parking lot outside the stadium.
Foreigners are quite confused by this tradition, as it doesn’t quite make sense why you would want to hang out in a parking lot before a sports game.
7 Trick or treating on Halloween is a vital part of your childhood
The concept of trick or treating on Halloween night has actually only recently begun to take off in countries other than the States. America is a country that loves to commercialise everything, including the spooky holiday where kids dress up as their favourite character and run around their neighbourhood collecting candy.
In the U.S., it’s crazy to think that your childhood wouldn’t include this grand tradition, whereas a lot of countries think it’s very bizarre that kids participate in it.
6 Using the thumbs up gesture is the norm
The thumbs up gesture is used by Americans to show affirmation, to say ‘yes’, or to congratulate someone on a job well done. Even though it is used constantly in the U.S., it is definitely not universal. On the contrary, it is actually equivalent to using the middle finger in countries including Australia, Greece, and the Middle East.
It’s probably best to use verbal communication whilst travelling if you are from the States, as you may get yourself into a sticky situation you weren’t expecting.